Kilsheelan

About Us

Welcome to our site!

John We live near Rotorua, in the central part of the North Island of New Zealand, on 150 acres of beautiful rolling hill country, where we farm beef cattle and sheep. The area is known as the Bay of Plenty and is one of the best in NZ for bird hunting, with good natural populations of wild pheasant, quail and ducks. Currently, in 2004, we live with six Irish setters, which is a small family for us. We can have up to 12 dogs at home.
Robyn

We started life with red dogs in 1974, soon after we were married. Robyn wanted an Irish setter for all the wrong reasons (looks, glamour…) and John didn't want one for all the usual reasons (stupid, untrainable…)! We eventually acquired a delinquent 12-month old dog. It was a steep learning curve but "Sulty" was a character who taught us far more than we ever taught him! He started us bird hunting and gundog trialling, and his great strengths and (great) weaknesses helped us define what was important for our future breeding. He was a super duck dog and wonderful companion, but despite all our best efforts we never saw him point a wild bird in his life! He went progressively blind (from PRA) and was severely afflicted with HD, but he tackled life full on. Sulty did everything 100% plus! He was such hard work to train that other breeds tempted us. If we had got a more positive response we might have made that choice. But when folk said, "get rid of that dog, you will never make anything of an Irish setter" we resolved that we damn well would! John made up his first FTCh Irish setter in 1981; Robyn had her first FTCh in 1987.

Robyn and Sulty 1975
Robyn and Sulty (1975)
We are fortunate in that our careers have allowed us to travel far and often. In 1985 Robyn lived in Scotland for a year, John in Eire and Sweden, and we first experienced the grouse moors and the magnificent native Irish red setters. Gone was our complacency and the smug satisfaction in having the best Irish setters in NZ! We now knew that so much better existed…and we brought home our first genuine work-bred dog, from Billy Darragh (Erinvale) in the UK. The best decision we ever made! So many years and good dogs have passed since then…

We both judge field trials and get great enjoyment from watching good gundogs, of any breed, perform. John has judged championship trials for pointing dogs, retrievers and spaniels, since 1986. Robyn has judged pointer & setter and spaniel championships since 1988. Between us we have also judged field trials in Australia, USA, UK, Eire and Finland. We are both enthusiastic hunters and shoot pheasant, quail and ducks over our dogs.

We were founding members of the NZ Pointer & Setter Club (in 1983); John was President for a period of 8 years and Robyn has been Secretary for the last 14 years. Both of us have also served as elected members on the Executive of the NZ Gundog Trials Association, which controls and administers the sport in our country. Currently Robyn is the (first woman) President of the NZGTA.

It is important to us that the pointing breeds in NZ can hold their heads up on the world stage and we have worked hard to achieve that. We have helped to re-establish field trials on wild gamebirds here, to create a "Field Champion" title to recognise the dogs who can win such trials and to train the specialists to judge them. NZ enthusiasts also regularly benefit from the company of overseas visitors, invited by the Pointer & Setter Club to judge our field trials.

Along the way we have bred and enjoyed some pretty good dogs. And made many great friends. We enjoy interacting with working gundog owners all over the world and regularly import Irish setters to improve the breed here. We have exported our setters to Australia, Canada, Norway and Finland. We hope you will enjoy our website.

John & Robyn



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